Most Austrian dairies and cheese manufacturers participated in a Listeria monitoring program, which was established after the first reports of dairy product-associated listeriosis outbreaks more than thirty years ago. Within the Listeria monitoring program, up to 800 mL of product-associated liquids such as cheese smear or brine are processed in a semi-quantitative approach to increase epidemiological sensitivity. A sampling strategy within cheese production, which detects environmental contamination before it results in problematic food contamination, has benefits for food safety management. The liquid-based sampling strategy was implemented by both industrial cheese makers and small-scale dairies located in the mountainous region of Western Austria. This report considers more than 12,000 Listeria spp. examinations of liquid-based samples in the 2009 to 2018 timeframe. Overall, the occurrence of L. monocytogenes in smear liquid samples was 1.29% and 1.55% (n = 5043 and n = 7194 tested samples) for small and industrial cheese enterprises, respectively. The liquid-based sampling strategy for Listeria monitoring at the plant level appears to be superior to solid surface monitoring. Cheese smear liquids seem to have good utility as an index of the contamination of cheese up to that point in production. A modelling or validation process should be performed for the new semi-quantitative approach to estimate the true impact of the method in terms of reducing Listeria contamination at the cheese plant level. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.